Don't let consumerization be the free lunch that eats you

When it comes to enterprise tech, price is almost an afterthought. So why let it dictate what you do in the cloud?

Imagine all technology, hardware and software, is free: routers, servers, operating systems, development environments, wide-area networks, firewalls, desktops, laptops, tablets, applications, lions, tigers, and bears -- all of it.

Now look at your company's enterprise technical architecture and ask yourself what you'd do differently because of it. My bet: Not much.

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Sure, a fresh, dispassionate look at your enterprise technical architecture would probably lead you to regret decisions you've made or to make some changes now.

What I'm saying is that you wouldn't have those regrets or make those changes because you no longer have to pay for anything anymore. That's because looking back at how decisions were made about every component of every technology your company has deployed will show the issues that matter most: features and functionality, quality of construction, manageability, performance, scalability, the vendor's reputation and reliability, the component's marketplace viability, and concerns about restrictive license terms and conditions.

Price? That's something you negotiated afterward.

The long-term cost of cloud services

Given this, could somebody please tell me why, when you add the two little words "the cloud" to the discussion, everything is supposed to change? There are certainly good reasons to put some of your computing eggs in the cloud basket (forgive me, metaphor police). It's just that not one of these reasons is economic.

In fact, look at the following:

  • The dirt-cheap raw cost of computing hardware, storage, and so on
  • The nontrivial cost of beefing up your WAN to accommodate all the data traffic that's no longer happening at wire speeds inside your own personal data center
  • The very good chance that the ongoing "rental" costs of cloud-based technology will quickly add up to more than the one-time purchase price of owned or licensed tech

There's a pretty good chance that replacing what you have with cloud-based alternatives would end up costing you more.

But don't worry. The same was true of moving manufacturing to China, and that never stopped anyone.

Here's one valid reason to move to the cloud; astonishingly enough, various industry pundits got it right. Sorta -- they got it right in the sense that someone who bought a great horse but put the saddle on backward got it right. It's consumerization.

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